Network World - Some things are not what they appear to be. They look innocent, devoid of power or danger, and then when you least expect it, pow! They show themselves to be much more. Such is the nature of this week's find: The Pogoplug produced by Cloud Engines.
At first glance the second generation of the Pogoplug, launched in November, appears to be unassuming. It is a relatively small silver rectangle (4 by 2.5 by 2 inches) on a hideous shocking-pink stand. On the back there's a power connection, a GigE connector and three USB 2.0 ports, while the front sports another USB connector and a power-on light.
That's it. But beneath this garish but otherwise unremarkable exterior beats the heart of one of the coolest and, to the enterprise world, one of the more dangerous gadgets to appear for some time.
Allow me to explain: Hidden inside the Pogoplug is a 1.2GHz Marvell ARM SOC RISC processor and 256MB of RAM and 512MB of internal flash storage. On this neat little package runs a stripped-down Linux distro with the 18.104.22.168 kernel.
Here's what the Pogoplug does: You power up the device, plug in an Ethernet cable, connect a nerd stick or a USB HDD drive (USB or externally-powered) and then browse to my.pogoplug.com where you create an account giving your e-mail address and selecting a password.
Minutes later you receive an e-mail with a link that contains the unique 26-digit code for your Pogoplug. Click on that link and you are taken to a Web page that displays the contents of the drive attached to your Pogoplug. Voila! Almost instant network-attached storage, but accessible from anywhere on the intertubes! There are also applications for Windows and OS X that allow you to map local drives to the Pogoplug storage.
So, how does this magic work? Well, by making three assumptions. First, that your network will assign an address by DHCP. Next, that a UDP connection can be created from your Pogoplug to port 4365 on service.pogoplug.com. And lastly, that your firewall will allow incoming UDP connections from that same service. If DHCP isn't available, Cloud Engine's tech support can help you set up a static address.
The Pogoplug Web interface lets you browse the attached storage and, if you click on an image, it will be displayed, while clicking on a music file will play it. From the Web interface you can enable sharing with other people and notify them via e-mail, post links to your content on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, publish an RSS feed linking to your content, enable public Web access and set up e-mail notification of folder changes.
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